What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease refers to any infection in the gums and around the teeth. Though it’s often simply referred to as “gum disease,” periodontitis and periodontal disease affect much more than just your gums; these conditions may also affect the bones, ligaments, and other support structures around your teeth.

Gum disease can damage all parts of the mouth, resulting in receding gums, loose teeth, and, eventually, tooth loss. Gum disease is a chronic infection that, when left untreated, can affect your general health, too.

Periodontal disease can lead to:

  • Heart problems
  • Kidney disease
  • Weakened immune system
  • Type II Diabetes
  • Cancer

Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease

close up image of a women with inflammed gumsThere are four stages of gum disease, but at the early stage, you may notice:

  • Bleeding while brushing and flossing
  • Painful gum
  • Red gums
  • Inflamed gums
  • Mild gum recession
  • Sensitivity to cold and hot foods and drinks
  • Bad breath
  • Growing spaces between teeth

A dentist in Wilmington, like Dr. Kuzma, can fix these problems with highly effective gum treatment.

Stages of Gum Disease

There are four progressive stages of gum disease:

  • Gingivitis: This occurs when there’s a buildup of bacteria. In its early stages, inflammation around the gums is visible to the naked eye, with gum tissues appearing red and swollen. Gums that are easily irritated or that bleed during tooth brushing indicate gingivitis. Removal of the buildup (known as “plaque”) is necessary to prevent the gum disease from advancing to the next stage.
  • Early periodontitis: As the gums become more inflamed, they pull away from the teeth, forming spaces known as “periodontal pockets.” Food, bacteria, and plaque begin to collect in the pockets, which leads to infection as the bacteria damage the bone.
  • Moderate periodontitis: The symptoms of periodontitis become more severe as inflammation spreads, and some discomfort may occur. In this stage, more supporting bone is lost, teeth loosen, and the gums recede even more.

Advanced periodontitis: Tooth loss and painful abscesses will occur when gum disease advances to the last stage; in this stage, the infection has spread beneath the gums.

Gum Disease Treatment Options

Your gum disease treatment depends on the severity of it, your general health, your oral health, and the recommendations of your dentist in Wilmington. At the early signs of gingivitis, we may recommend simple changes to your oral hygiene routine:

  • Brushing more often
  • Brushing less often (in some cases)
  • Flossing differently
  • Flossing more thoroughly
  • Switching to an electric toothbrush
  • Using a water flosser
  • Adding mouthwash to your at-home routine

For more severe cases, we might recommend a deep cleaning called “Scaling and Root Planing.” In this procedure, we work to remove bacteria from between your teeth and gums using special instruments and innovative dental technology.

Our gum disease treatment will also help the gums to stick to your teeth again while making it harder for bacteria to penetrate the gums. The state-of-the-art dental laser allows for a gentler treatment than traditional tools and kills bacteria in and around the gums. If antibiotics are required, Dr. Kuzma will explain what and when to take your antibiotics (after reviewing any medication allergies you may have).

In the most severe gum disease cases, we may need to refer you to a periodontist or oral surgeon for surgical gum treatment.

Schedule an Examination to Stop Gum Disease Early

Please call Wilmington, NC, general dentist Dr. Michael J. Kuzma at (910) 392-6060 to schedule an initial evaluation. You may also fill out our online contact form, and one of our dental team members will reach out to assist with scheduling and answer any questions you may have about gum disease treatment at Kuzma Advanced Dentistry.